Archive for November, 2017

New Cedar Hill Mural in Old Anacostia

Cedar Hill mural_Ketcham ES_15th St

Photo by John Muller & William Alston-El. Copyright strictly enforced online and offline.

Throughout the greater countryside and the greater DC metropolitan area there are Douglass statues. Throughout Ward 8 there are a number of murals and depictions of Mr. Frederick Douglass. Some are well done, while some could use a little touch-up work.

The newest Douglass-related mural doesn’t depict the visage of the Lion of Anacostia, instead it depicts local children planting and watering a sapling in the front lawn of Cedar Hill, the home of Douglass from the fall of 1877 until his death in February 1895.

This expansive vertical mural spans three stories on the 15th Street SE side of Ketcham Elementary School, named for Union General, Congressman and District Commissioner John H. Ketcham.

On the top reads, “Planting roots now to grow strong later.”

On the bottom reads, “Once you learn to read, you will forever be free.” – Frederick Douglass

This mural is part of a larger and ongoing renovation and beautification of the school famous and revered among the streets and inhabitants of Old Anacostia.

The mural was completed by Joe Pagac from Tucson, Arizona. Ketcham ES entered into a contest on Twitter and was selected for the mural from the DC Mural Arts Program –> MuralsDC/DPW #Nominatemywall campaign
Cedar Hill mural __ Ketcham ES & Wash monument

Photo by John Muller & William Alston-El. Copyright is strictly enforced, online and offline.


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Tentative Schedule – Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Community Conference, Sat., Dec 9th – 9am – 4pm @ DC Prep [1409 V Street SE]

FDNHS_Neighborhood Children on Cedar Hill front porch _ March 20129:00 am – 9:30 am – light refreshments

9:30 am – 9:45 am — Welcome Remarks

  • Rev. Mr. Robert White, Sr., Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church
  • Mr. Amir Muhammad, America’s Islamic Heritage Museum
  • John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.
  • Raymond Weeden, DC Prep
  • Mr. Milton Bryant, John H. Ketcham Elementary School
  • Ty’zaeha Garvin-Bailey, 5th grader John H. Ketcham Elementary School
  • United States Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (Confirmed)

9:45 am – 10:45 am – “Neighborhood Memories of Cedar Hill and Mr. Douglass’ House”

  • Panel of local residents who recall Cedar Hill during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and 1990s.
    • Confirmed: Rev. Oliver “OJ” Johnson, former ANC representing Historic Anacostia; local legend
    • Confirmed: Andre E. Myrick, local photographer; former resident of Cedar Gardens
    • Confirmed: Donald E. Scoggins, Frederick Douglass Memorial Historical Association; knew Ms. Gladys B. Parham

10:50 am – 11:50 am – “Mr. Douglass at Home and Local Activism”

  • Kimberly Springle, Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives
  • Nathan Heavers, Virginia Tech University

11:50 am – 12:45 pm – lunch

  • Catering provided by Claudie’s Soulful Eats

12:45 pm – 2:00 pm — “Mr. Douglass and the Federal Government”

  • John T. Elliff, Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia
  • David Turk, United States Marshal Service
  • Kym Elder, National Park Service

2:05 pm – 3:00 pm — “Living Heritage of Frederick Douglass in Washington and Baltimore”

  • Lou Fields, Douglass expert and tour guide of Historic Fells Point, Baltimore, MD
  • Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of Washington Informer 
  • Jennifer Morris, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  • Invitation extended to Howard University History Department

3:05 pm – 3:45 pm – community round table and discussion

3:45 pm – 4:00 pm — closing remarks


Support FREE Frederick Douglass Community Conference! [raised $400 towards goal of $1818]

What Would Frederick Douglasss Say

Copyright exclusive to William Alston-El and John Muller. Strictly enforced.

Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Community Conference on Saturday, December 9th at DC Prep’s newly opened Anacostia Elementary Campus, in the old St. Teresa School at 1409 V Street SE.

DC Prep has generously donated space, from 9am – 4pm, to convene a gathering of local and regional Douglassonians in preparation for the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial, which is planned to take place across multiple countries, states, cities and towns throughout 2018.

Despite the recent passing of legislation to create an official government commission very little has been organized and there has been no gathering of Douglassonians — open to the community and general public — in Washington, D.C. in nearly two decades.

The last efforts were led by Dr. Frank Fargasso and Howard University.

Time is running out for Mr. Douglass to get the organized recognition and community collaboration he so righteously and properly deserves.

Funds will be used to support the good folks who are taking their time to present and share the expertise with the the community, food and drink, printing costs and other incidentals.

The figure of $1818 represents the year of the birth of one of the greatest native sons of the United States of America, Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey.

All funds will be used to support the FREE community conference for Anacostians and Douglassonians worldwide.

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Frederick Douglass had fruit orchards at Cedar Hill [Evening Star, 23 March, 1886]

Evening Star _ March 13, 1886, p. 4 _ FD Peach OrchardIn preparation for a planned one-year sojourn through the Old World Frederick Douglass placed an advertisement in the Evening Star in March 1886 seeking a renter for his Cedar Hill estate.

The ad in full:

FOR RENT – FOR ONE YEAR FROM JUNE 1st, Cedar Hill, Anacostia, D.C., containing 15 acres, with fruit orchards and garden, furnished house, including furnace, range and bath room; good stables, fine location, no malaria and overlooking the whole city. Rent $65. FREDERICK DOUGLASS.


What Will Happen With The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial?

What Would Frederick Douglasss Say

Photo by John Muller & William Alston-El. Copyright is strictly restricted and enforced.

With less than three months until the 200th birthday in February 2018 of Frederick Douglass, one of the most consequential and important native sons in the history of our country, the Bicentennial Commission tasked with planning, developing, and carrying out programs and activities to honor Douglass is not even formed.

After introducing resolutions in previous legislative sessions, Congresswomen Eleanor Holmes Norton (D – District of Columbia) introduced H.R. 2989 in June 2017 to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Following an amendment process, on October 18, 2017 the resolution passed the Senate and became law on November 2, 2017, signed by President Trump.

Late last week Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D – California) appointed Representative Norton and Kenneth Morris, a Douglass descendant, to the Commission. In total the Commission is to be composed of 16 members. The remaining 14 members will be appointed as follows:

  • Two members appointed by the President.
  • Four members appointed by the President on the recommendation of each of the Mayor of the District of Columbia and the Governors of Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.
  • Three members, at least one of whom must be a Member of the House, appointed by the Speaker of the House.
  • Three members, at least one of whom must be a Senator, appointed by the Senate Majority Leader.
  • Two members, at least one of whom must be a Senator, appointed by the Senate Minority Leader

No additional members have been announced. Probable candidates include Senator Charles Schumer (D – New York), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D – Maryland), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Massachusetts), Congressman Andy Harris (R – Maryland) and others members of the House and Senate.

What Will This Amount To?

The Commission appears tantamount to a conventional paper tiger with ceremonial names. While some may feel a stately Commission honors the memory of the abolitionist, journalist and reformist, Frederick Douglass deserves better. Much better. It is too late to do better.

The Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was formed in 2000. Nine years before Lincoln’s Bicentennial was celebrated in 2009.

While Frederick Douglass touches many cities, counties, states and countries, there is no existing coordination between Douglass-related heritage sites, landmarks and museums, scholars, academics and authors, educators, re-enactors and interpretive tour guides and institutions that promote and preserve the legacy of Douglass.

In recent years a number of statues of Douglass have been erected and placed in prominent places such as the Capitol Visitor Center’s Emancipation Hall, the campus of the University of Maryland, National Harbor, Easton, Maryland and a college campus in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The first Douglass statue was erected in 1899 in Rochester, New York. It has been moved from its original location and by some accounts has been forgotten in the city where Douglass launched the influential North Star in 1847. In the early 1990s the city added another Douglass likeness in a public park having tea with Susan B. Anthony. There are multiple statues of Douglass in New York City, including one just outside of the New York Historical Society.

Despite the many statues and Douglass’ connection to the Library of Congress, where the majority of his personal papers are archived, Howard University, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1871 until his death, Yale University, which began the Frederick Douglass Papers Project in the early 1970s and the Department of Interior which has had administrative jurisdiction over the National Park Service’s Frederick Douglass National Historic Site since the Kennedy Administration, the upcoming Bicentennial has been orphaned.

The politicians have issued their press releases with laudatory quotes about the Bicentennial Commission. But who will now do the bare-knuckle work required to plan, organize and execute a robust schedule of public programs including lectures, tours, essay and oratorical contests across three states and the District of Columbia, as well as attempt to tackle the amazing deficit of scholarship and scholarly infrastructure?

Is there an individual, group of individuals or institution that is poised and capable to take the lead with so little time before the Bicentennial calendar turns?

Frederick Douglass was born a slave, a non-citizen. By the time of his death he had advised Presidents Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland and Harrison.

Unfortunately, President Trump cannot appoint Mr. Douglass to his own Bicentennial Commission, despite comments earlier this year by the President which caused many to perceive he did not know Douglass was no longer with us.

In the void of a functioning Douglass Bicentennial there are two things which will undoubtedly keep him in the public consciousness throughout 2018:

The United States Mint placing Douglass and Cedar Hill on a quarter earlier this year, and Will Ferrell portraying Abraham Lincoln and Don Cheadle portraying Frederick Douglass in an episode of Drunk History that has been viewed nearly 4 and a half million times on YouTube.

Although Douglass did not imbibe and was an active temperance leader this is what his memory has been reduced to: Drunk History.


John Muller

Author, Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia (The History Press, 2012)

Organizing Frederick Douglass Community Conference, Saturday, Dec. 9th at DC Prep’s Anacostia Elementary Campus, 1409 V Street SE.


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Brooklyn Historical Society hosts Leigh Fought, Dec. 11, 2017 _ Book Talk:”Women in the World of Frederick Douglass”

FD statue in Rochester _ Leigh Fought bookHistorian and professor of American History at Le Moyne College, Leigh Fought, paints an alternative portrait of abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass by examining the lives of the women around him. In this latest work, Fought sheds light on Douglass’s relationships to his mother, grandmother, slave mistresses, wives Anna Murray and Helen Pitts, and many other women who nurtured, challenged, and united with him in shared struggles for emancipation, the right to vote, and equality.

Book Talk: Women in the World of Frederick Douglass
Monday, December 11
Doors: 6:00 pm
Event: 6:30 pm
$5 General Admission / Free for Members

BHS Members: to reserve tickets at the member price, click on “Tickets” and enter your Member ID on the following page after clicking on “Enter Promotional Code.”

REFUND POLICY Brooklyn Historical Society requires 24 hours notice before the date of the event to refund a ticket. No refunds are provided after that point. No refunds are provided on the day of the event and all subsequent days.

Founded in 1863, Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) is a library, museum, and urban education center dedicated to the people of Brooklyn, providing opportunities for civic dialogue and thoughtful engagement.

Phone: 718.222.4111

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Norton Appointed by Pelosi to Serve on Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Established by Norton’s Bill

Nov 16, 2017
Press Release
FD 200

Pelosi Also Appoints Douglass’ Great-Great-Great Grandson

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has appointed Norton to serve on the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission, which was established by Norton’s bill (Public Law 115-77).  The commission will plan, develop and carry out programs and activities to honor and celebrate the life of Frederick Douglass, the country’s greatest slavery abolitionist, during the bicentennial anniversary of his birth, in 2018.  Douglass’ home at Cedar Hill in Southeast Washington, D.C. is an official National Historic Site, which attracts thousands of visitors annually.  Leader Pelosi also appointed Kenneth Morris, Jr., Douglass’ great-great-great grandson, to the commission.  Norton’s bill specified that the House Minority Leader would appoint two members of the commission, at least one of whom must be a Member of the House.

“I thank Leader Pelosi for selecting me to serve on the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission,” Norton said.  “I am particularly pleased that she also has appointed Kenneth Morris, Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass, whose knowledge of Douglass’ legacy is unequaled.  I look forward to the bipartisan work of planning a fitting celebration in honor of one of the greatest Americans in history, including events here in the District of Columbia, which Douglass called home for most of his adult life.”

The commission’s other 14 members will be appointed as follows:

  • Two members appointed by the President.
  • Four members appointed by the President on the recommendation of each of the Mayor of the District of Columbia and the Governors of Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.
  • Three members, at least one of whom must be a Member of the House, appointed by the Speaker of the House.
  • Three members, at least one of whom must be a Senator, appointed by the Senate Majority Leader.
  • Two members, at least one of whom must be a Senator, appointed by the Senate Minority Leader.

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